One of the common misconceptions about gamers is that they’re all plugged in—they’re all on the internet, they all read forums and keep up with publisher’s blogs, they subscribe to podcasts and know what’s being released when.

This is hogwash. There are many gamers that don’t get news from anyplace except their local gaming store, and are largely or entirely insulated from trends in the gaming industry. Their hobby is one or two games that they buy and/or play. They come into the store once every few months, pick up anything new for their game of choice, and go home. They may see other games on the shelf, but they don’t know what’s in them and they don’t have the time or inclination to learn. They don’t participate in public/organized games at the store, they don’t go to conventions — they have friends that they game with, and that’s that.

Last fall I was in my FLGS and another customer saw me picking up a wide variety of new releases. He asked if I was a “game collector” and I said no, I just try to keep up-to-date on what other companies are doing, as I work in the game industry. He then asked me what superhero games were good these days, and I pointed him to Mutants and Masterminds on the shelf (I also mentioned HERO, but said local store doesn’t stock it). He asked how you make characters, and I said “Well, it’s a point-based system” — his reply was “What’s a point-based system?”

I briefly explained what a point-based system was, and he found it incredibly difficult to understand that you could make a character in this game without picking some sort of archetype/class/template first: “So how do I make a speedster?” “Well, you build up the right stats and buy powers to make him faster.” “But how do you know he’s a speedster?!”

So, three things that a five minute conversation with this guy revealed:

  1. Even though he likes supers, he’s never read or even flipped through Mutants & Masterminds, one of the two most popular superhero RPGs of the last decade, despite the title being in regular stock at the local store we both shop at.
  2. He didn’t know what a point-based system was and had never (knowingly) played a game that used them.
  3. He had never (knowingly) played a game that didn’t involve archetypes/classes/templates of some sort.

None of those things are bad — if he’s having fun gaming, that’s great. But it does show that until someone actually stepped in and directly gave him that information, he had never learned or experienced three things that I suspect the average “tabletop gamer on the internet” would consider common knowledge.